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DOH recommends declaration of public health emergency after COVID-19 local transmission

The Department of Health (DOH) said Saturday it has recommended to President Rodrigo Duterte the declaration of a public health emergency even as it raised a Code Red Sub-Level 1.

The hoisting of the alert status was in light of the confirmation of the first case of "localized transmission" the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the country.

"The DOH confirms that the previously reported fifth case of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) as the first case of local transmission in the country after verification from the Bureau of Immigration showed that the patient had no recent travel history," Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said in a press conference.

"With this Code Red, the DOH has recommended to the Office of the President for the declaration of Public Health Emergency which will facilitate mobilization of resources and ease processes, including procurement of critical logistics and supplies and intensifying reporting and quarantine measures," the Health chief said.

"We are looking at Monday for the release or issuance of the document that will say the President has approved our recommendation," Duque said.

Republic Act No. 11332 defines a public health emergency as the “occurrence of an imminent threat of an illness or health condition that poses a high probability of a large number of deaths, a large number of serious injuries or long-term disabilities, Widespread exposure to an infectious or toxic agent, international exposure to an infectious or toxic agent, trade and travel restrictions."

The raising of Code Red, Duque said, is a "preemptive call" for both the national government and local governments as well as public and private health care providers to prepare for possible increase in suspected and confirmed cases.

The DOH also confirmed on Saturday that the number of COVID-19 cases in the country has risen to six.

The latest case is the wife of a patient previously confirmed to have tested positive for COVID-19 who had no recent travel history, Duque said.

As of Friday, the number of people infected with the new coronavirus surpassed 100,000 across the world. —KG/MDM, GMA News